Taliasman and why we all need a little love: Fairy Tale Magic Herd Hop

Welcome to the Fairy Tale Magic Blog Hop! You can win a $100 Amazon gift card as a grand prize, and other bloggers will be offering individual prizes on their own blogs. Click on the image above to get all of the links.

—————————-

Today, I will visit a hospice center to hold the hand of a woman I met nine short months ago. A woman who spoke three sentences to me before revealing herself as a kindred spirit, soul mate, friend I’d always known and loved before we even met. A woman (I’ll call her Sara) who helped me heal in ways I never knew possible.

The first time I lost a grandmother, no one allowed tears. Later, I would see my mother shed more tears over the family dog than her mother-in-law. “She’s lived a long life” and “What a way to go” were the refrains at her funeral.

The second time, it was after a protracted and complicated year of absence. While living overseas, I found a ridiculously cheap phone plan that allowed nearly unlimited minutes for $3 a month. No matter how many times I tried to convince her, however, she didn’t believe me. “This is too expensive,” she would say, and sometimes she would insist on hanging up after a minute or two. I’d coax her with questions about her favorite news shows (she watched all of them and had strong opinions about the female newscasters’ wardrobe and hairstyles), and sometimes she would forget until twenty or thirty minutes went by. Then she’d exclaim, “I’ll let you go. This costs too much!”

Even living overseas and making a home visit once a year, my aunts told me that I visited my grandmother more often than most of her seventeen grandchildren. I didn’t do it for her; I did it for me. I’d “discovered” my grandmother in college (while writing weekly letters, we formed a bond), and until that point I’d been the not-so-interesting youngest grandchild after a plethora of grandchildren on both sides of the family. For the first few years living overseas, phone options were too expensive for more than an occasional brief call. Once I discovered Skype Out, my world changed. I looked forward to our daily call, and I’d grown up and gotten better at drawing people into conversation. I’d always been unsure of myself as a child/adolescent, and overseas I found people who liked me and liked talking to me. When I brought this new, more confident self to my grandmother (via technology and separated by thousands of miles), I received the unexpected gift of someone who loved me and connected with me on a daily basis.

Then, it all changed. She got sick (pneumonia or a fall, I can’t remember which came first) and was brought to the hospital.

She never went home.

After all while, she was transferred to the local nursing home for recovery/rehab with the hope she might go home (with more frequent home health care visits, and/or one of the family staying with her at least part time). She never got better, and the days turned into weeks and months.

She never accepted that she wouldn’t go home, and she didn’t want a phone put in her room. The nursing home didn’t provide phones, and patients’ families had to bring one. I begged my family to put in a phone anyway so I could talk to her, but they said no. Things with my family were complicated enough that they didn’t place priority on her communication with me, and they would have read (and judged) any letters or cards I mailed to her.

After months of no contact, a nurse friend gave me an idea to call the nurse’s station, explain the situation, and ask them to bring my grandmother to the phone. I did, they did, and I had one last conversation with her. I’m not sure she heard or understood me, but the nurse said she seemed responsive. Perhaps it was a lie, but I am grateful to her for telling it.

Later, when I received the call that the end was near, a plane ticket home cost more money than I could pay. I never got a chance to sit next to her, hold her hand, or share memories with everyone else who loved her.

I didn’t cry when my second grandmother died, either.

When I met “Sara” less than a year ago, I’d volunteered to help with the church quilting circle. I know the basics of sewing, but I couldn’t keep up with women who’d sewed twice as many years as I’ve been alive. I drifted to a table where a petite white-haired woman tugged embroidery thread through pieced quilts to tie knots.

“Can I help?” I asked.

“Sit down!” she smiled.

As we chatted (she and I remember this conversation differently), she asked me, “Where are you from?” She grew up in the neighboring state (which considers itself the better state), and somewhere in our conversation she laughed, “Why would anyone go there?”

“Because I grew up there,” I answered, and at least once a month since then she has told others about our exchange.

“I was so embarrassed,” she says every time she brings it up. “I just thought…well, who does live there?”

Within minutes, we recognized each other as someone special. At the end of the day, she was a friend I’d known my entire life. I went back to the next quilting session specifically to spend time with her, and the next week I debated for ages whether to bring her cookies. I finally (reluctantly) decided against it, even though I wanted to. She was someone special from the first moment, but I didn’t dare assume more to the relationship than was there.

Later, while playing cards (our monthly card game, an event she never missed and therefore an event I never missed, either), I mentioned, “I wanted to bring you some cookies, but I didn’t want to bother you in case you were napping or tired.”

Her eyes lit up, and she looked both surprised and pleased. “I’m diabetic so I wouldn’t have been able to eat them, but I would have loved the visit.”

I wish I could have brought her cookies, but at that time and in that place the verbal interaction affirmed our connection.

The last time I saw Sara (at our monthly card game last week), she laughed, joked, and set the rest of us straight when we took too long to play, didn’t go in order, or confused her by going out of order. As I left, she stood in the entryway waving to me while standing on her own two feet and leaning on the walker her daughter insisted she use.

A friend of mine told me, “It’s not often we get second chance to go back and redo something. Go and say goodbye to Sara, and tell her about your grandmother.”

Today, I will hold the hand of a woman who became a grandmother in all the ways that mattered. I know the tears are for my sake and not hers (she told everyone she had lived a good life and was ready to go when it was her time), and I am grateful to get the chance to say good-bye. To me, that is an affirmation of our love and connection. Saying good-bye is not about death but about life. The saddest good-bye is when there’s no one to say good-bye to.

Taliasman, my upcoming release from Decadent Publishing’s Beyond Fairy Tales series, tells the story of Talia, a young woman who never got past her initial hurt. Unwanted by her parents and devalued for being a girl, she decides to shut out the entire world. When Queen Vina comes to her home and offers a sackful of gold in exchange for Talia, Talia is hell-bent on rejecting every possible sign of affection from the one who bought her.

Taliasman blurb:

Born to a destitute woodworker who wanted a son to carry on the family business, Talia grew up with one phrase on her lips: “If I had been born a boy.” If she had been born a boy, she would have been cherished, supported, and launched into the world with her father’s legacy. As only a worthless girl, she toils all day long to earn her handful of inferior grain.

Far away in the heavenly palace, Queen Vina receives a mysterious coin necklace from Nicodemus, teller of stories. Compelled by the throbbing heartbeat, she scours the earth to come across Talia, enslaved to a family who never wanted her. Rather than admit her motives, Vina purchases the girl with a sack full of gold. Furious, betrayed, and homesick, Talia endeavors to share her misery with the entire palace. Vina, afraid to confess her love, allows herself to become trapped in the role of brutal slave owner.

Talia, bred to expect nothing but misery, faces the first choice of her life. Will she accept love, even if it comes from an unlikely source? Or will she reject the one who offers her everything?

Excerpt: 

If I had been born a boy, I would have followed in my father’s footsteps and become a tradesman. Because I was a girl, he sold me instead.

“No,” Vina corrects me when I bring up the story, which is not often. She doesn’t like the facts, and I dislike her pretty lies. “Your mother agonized whether to let you go, but she knew you would be better off here. She wanted to give you a better life.”

I would call Vina on her mistruths, but she claims I still reason as a child. All of my protests to the contrary serve to prove her right, at least in her mind. Only when I agree with her does she admit I am a full-grown adult.

“You’re happy with me, aren’t you?” Vina makes me sit next to her at the formal dinners she hosts most nights, and she dresses me in rich silks with real lace. If I tell her no, she sends me to my room as punishment for what she calls my petulance. If I resist, she gives me one of her lessons in obedience. Some are painful, others pleasurable, and all serve to narrow my world and make me focus on her. How could I not, when she owns me?

“No,” Vina corrects me when I call her my owner. “I set you free, and I gave you the life you never could have had otherwise.”

When I turned nineteen, no one wanted to marry me. My mother fussed with my hope chest, if it could be called that, arranging the one cotton handkerchief as if it could attract a suitor.

“Let me stay with you,” I entreated my parents, and I won. I always did. The house needed new walls, and I wielded the power tools. Small of stature and still a child, I could carry them to the electric outlet on the neighbor’s property. As an adult, Father would have faced fines for stealing electricity.

“You’ve turned her into such a tomboy no one will want her,” Mother chided Father, and the truth stung. I could have cared for my parents into their old age, but they wanted me gone.

necklace-0001

The artwork image is small, but this original drawing by the multi-talented Minelle Labraun depicts the talisman worn by Vina that calls her to Talia.

I will draw one random commenter to receive an ARC of Taliasman. Thank you for visiting, and may you have a blessed day filled with love.

Ana’s Advent Calendar 2013

Banner-700x300

Visit the main page of this blog to read today’s post and comment to earn your daily prize entry!

Ana’s Advent Calendar 2013

 

Do you remember, if you were lucky, having an advent calendar as a child?  The traditional kind had small, perforated paper windows to open for each day of December.  Each day’s window revealed a small surprise.  Usually it was a piece of chocolate or candy.  I never had one, but I envied the children who did.  Guess what?  We’re going to have an Advent Calendar, but we’re going to do it my way!

How will the advent calendar work, Ana style?  There will be rules.  Of course there will be rules.

  • Sign up!  (Bonus point if you sign up before December 1st!) Be sure to leave your email address (so I can contact you if you are a winner) and book preferences (S for spanking, K for kinky or edge, and V for vanilla)!  This will ensure that I track your comments to give you credit for each day that you play.  If you have any trouble leaving a comment, please let me know immediately by email.  If you do not sign up, you will not get credit for your entries!
  • Play daily.  Leave a comment responding to a post or answering a daily Advent Calendar question.  Only one comment per post will count as an entry, but you are welcome and encouraged to leave additional comments as part of the conversation.
  • Check for the winner list on Christmas Day!  Those who participate the most will win!

Yup, that’s it!  Oh, you want more rules?  Well, if you insist.  😉

  • Surprise Checks!  Prizes will be awarded during random “surprise checks” throughout the month.  It may be the first person to post on a certain day, a randomly selected commenter on a randomly selected day, the first person to mention a secret word, or anything else.  Surprise!
  • Perfect Attendance award!  Everyone who comments every day (by midnight EST on the day of each post) of the month will win a small surprise.
  • Free book days!  A few authors will be offering one or more books free on select days in December.  Check for details on the blog throughout the month.

Grand Prizes

  • Kindle Fire or Nook HD (winner’s choice), donated by Blushing Books
  • 2014 VIP discount to Loose Id, donated by the same
  • Beginning Domestic Discipline Boot Camp package (instruction book and workbook) and 6-month couple membership to the Learning Domestic Discipline online forum, donated by Learning Domestic Discipline
  • 6-month subscription to Discipline and Desire, donated by the same
  • Paddle from Blondie’s Place
  • Wooden spoon and spatula set, donated by Katie
  • Knitted jingle bell slippers, donated by Celeste Jones (US only)
  • Polka-dot “St. Knickerless” panties, donated by Ami Starsong
  • Content edit of a manuscript up to 25K, by Lina Sacher

 

Book Prizes

A Little Training and A Little Trouble by Abbie Adams

Becoming a Lady and Marked by the Alpha by Adaline Raine

Spanking Detective, Killer Heels, and Spank Camp by Alice Dark

Ruby Rose (two copies) by Alta Hensley

Fever Dream by Annabel Joseph

Becoming Clissine, Simple Gifts, Desire in Any Language, Editorial Board, The Vengeance of Mrs. Claus, and The Way Home by Anastasia Vitsky

Still, Guarding Hope, and Ivan’s Captive Submission by Ann Mayburn

The Solicitation by Bella Bryce

Destiny’s Chance by Cara Bristol

Lady Katherine’s Comeuppance and Lady Katherine’s Conundrum by Celeste Jones

Toy Run by Charley Descoteaux

Sorority Girl Pledge Time by Cheryl Dragon

The Grass is Greener and The Man of the House by Constance Masters

The Christmas Fraternity by Courage Knight

L’Amore Perfetto and Budde Bear Quilt Top Pattern by Cynthia Kimball

Wraith’s Heart (US & Canada only) and Nowhere for Christmas by Donna Steele

Claiming One and Tell Me (How to Write) A Story: Good, Basic Advice for Novices Ready to Write by E.J. Runyon

Explorations: The First Notebook of Emily Orn Wilkes, Secret Countess of Wessulk (three copies) by Emily Tilton

Correspondence Hall of Shame by Erica Scott

Valkyrie Chronicles: Return of the Asgard, Karaoke Queen (Music of the Soul), and Fracture: Divergence by Erik Schubach

Time of Grace by Gabriella West

South Sea Siren (two copies) by Heather Geoffries

Santa Spanks! and Santa Spanks! 2 by Holla Dean

Bella Rosa by Jade Cary

Taught to Serve, Trust Me to Know you, Trust Me to Own You, and Trust Me to Keep You by Jaye Peaches

Alien Adoration and Alien Lover by Jessica E. Subject

Elizabeth’s Destiny, Lessons of Love, and Dark Obsessions (US) and one Kindle book of winner’s choice by Jolynn Raymond

Magic of the Loch by Karen Michelle Nutt

Spanking Ms. Whitman by Kate Richards

Acting Lessons by Kathryn R. Blake

The Gate, Sharp Bite of Pleasure, and Christmas with the Countess’s Bride by KT Grant

The Story of M: A Seduction, The Story of L: An Odyssey, and The Story of L:

Enlightenment by LA Cloutier

Little and Loved and Michael and Jenna’s Christian Domestic Discipline Marriage by Leena Darling  

Lonesome Oak Ranch and Living the Dream by Leigh Smith

The Texas Rancher and the English Rose, My Texas Cowboy, and The Cattle Rustler’s Bride by Lucy Appleby

Demon Soul by Linda Hamonou

Coming, Ready or Not! Three Tales of Tease and Denial (two copies) and The Journal (two copies) by Liv Honeywell

No Flag (two copies) and Mine (two copies) by Liz Borino

All-Girls Academy and A Date with The Death by Louisa Bacio

A French Affair by Lucy Felthouse

Everything Christmas by Maddie Taylor

Forbidden Deception by Mahalia Levey

Aspen Meadows (two copies) by Mila Kerr

Mr. Short, Dark & Funny, and Three Strikes..You’re in Love by Nancy Levine

Aching To Submit, Taken By The Beast, and Captive’s Desire by Natasha Knight

The Prince’s Lash by Nattie Jones

Dreaming in Blue and Her Moonlight Lover by Olivia Starke

Hold My Hand and Touch My Heart by Paloma Beck
Correcting Kathy and The Winner: Romantek Book One by Patricia Green

Christmas Joy, The Naughty List (5-book set), and Tyler’s Resolution by Patty Devlin

The Spirit of Giving by Penelope Hasler

Song and Sword by PT Wyant

In His Command by Rie Warren

The Ladies of Heatherton Hall and The Countess and the Magician (two-story combination) by Rollin Hand

Tie Me Free by Sandra Bunino

Desperate Housewives of Olympus (two copies of Audible recording) by Saranna DeWylde

Desire and Deception by Sharon Buchbinder

Bound for Disappointment (two copies) by Sheri Savill

A Hell Hound’s Fire and The Beltane Witch (two-book set) by Siobhan Muir

Taking Chances by SJ Maylee

One book of winner’s choice (two winners) by Starla Kaye

Hanna’s Awakening (five copies) and Christmas With the Professor (five copies) by Sue Lyndon

Master-bation, At Sir’s Command (The Torn Series: Book 1) by Suzy Ayers

Mastering Maeve and My Naughty Little Secret (four copies total, reader’s choice, plus one paperback to US or Europe) by Tara Finnegan

Twice as Nice: Anya’s Tale and Erotic Shorts, Volume III by Thianna D

Betrothed to Mr. Darcy by Violet Bedford 

Taking Control and Catching Death by Virginia Nelson

Immoral: Tales of a Vampire Hunter and Amaranthine Rain by Zander Vyne

Surprise Day Sponsors

Dinah McLeod

Leigh Ellwood

Kathryn R. Blake

Maren Smith

Renee Rose

Tara Finnegan

Zee Monodee

Advent 2013

Artwork by Minelle Labraun

Graphic design by Katie

.

What are you waiting for? Sign up by clicking here!

Visit the main page of this blog to read today’s post and comment to earn your daily prize entry!